DEM–FEM analysis of soil failure process via the separate edge coupling method

Research paper by F. Tu, D. Ling, C. Hu, R. Zhang

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 24 Jan '17Published in: International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics


The concurrent multiscale method, which couples the discrete element method (DEM) for predicting the local micro-scale evolution of the soil particle skeleton with the finite element method (FEM) for estimating the remaining macro-scale continuum deformation, is a versatile tool for modeling the failure process of soil masses. This paper presents the separate edge coupling method, which is degenerated from the generalized bridging domain method and is good at eliminating spurious reflections that are induced by coupling models of different scales, to capture the granular behavior in the domain of interest and to coarsen the mesh to save computational cost in the remaining domain. Cundall non-viscous damping was used as numerical damping to dissipate the kinetic energy for simulating static failure problems. The proposed coupled DEM–FEM scheme was adopted to model the wave propagation in a 1D steel bar, a soil slope because of the effect of a shallow foundation and a plane-strain cone penetration test (CPT). The numerical results show that the separate edge coupling method is effective when it is adopted for a problem with Cundall non-viscous damping; it qualitatively reproduces the failure process of the soil masses and is consistent with the full micro-scale discrete element model. Stress discontinuity is found in the coupling domain. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.